There are many wonderful things about running a business, but doing payroll and administering benefits usually don’t make the list. For many small businesses, HR is an afterthought, but that doesn’t make it any less time-consuming.
Fifty-four percent of small business owners handle HR work themselves, and it takes up 35 percent of their time. That’s time that could otherwise be spent interacting with customers, generating new business, and strategizing for the future.
Most business owners take on this work because they simply can’t afford a dedicated HR professional. But managing HR responsibilities in a haphazard way can lead to costly errors in payroll, taxes, and compliance.
If this sounds like you, you need some help. Hiring a dedicated staff member might not be an option, but there are other ways you can lighten your load. Implementing these changes won’t just save you time. You’ll also improve your employees’ experience and make fewer mistakes.
Here are six ways to streamline and simplify your HR responsibilities:
1. Invest in software that has built-in HR functions.
According to OnPay, a payroll service provider, running payroll takes small business owners roughly 18 hours a month. Only 25 percent of business owners are confident they submit payroll taxes accurately, which can lead to nasty surprises.
If you’re a small business owner, good payroll software is a must. You need a way to track employee pay (including overtime and bonuses) and submit taxes with ease. Ideally, this should be software that grows with your business so you aren’t overpaying for a small number of workers.
In the spirit of simplicity, it’s always better if you can find software that can pull double duty. If your payroll software has built-in HR functions like PTO tracking, you’re much more likely to use them.
2. Make the switch to digital documents.
Nobody likes to handle paperwork, but nearly every HR function involves a deluge of forms and handbooks. One of the easiest changes you can make is to go completely paperless.
Instead of heading to the copy machine, have employees e-sign employee contracts, tax forms, and NDAs. Most insurance providers give the option of going paperless, and even the IRS will let you file electronically.
Going paperless isn’t just better for the environment. It saves you from having to handle, file, and store all that paperwork. It’s more cost-effective and reduces errors. Plus you can store records easily in the cloud.
Your employees will thank you for going paperless, too. Signing digitally means they don’t have to scan in documents, and they can access their benefits information online.
3. Create automated workflows for repetitive processes.
One of the biggest HR time-wasters is managing all the back and forth with employees. Simply onboarding a new employee requires filling out new hire paperwork, W-4s, benefits enrollment, and more. Employee off-boarding, PTO requests, and performance reviews will each have their own separate process. And if you don’t follow that process exactly, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks.
Setting up automated workflows for each of these activities can drastically reduce your workload. There are a whole host of platforms that will allow you to set up customized checklists. When an employee needs to be onboarded or offboarded, the program will automatically send out the paperwork. You can even create automated alerts to ensure tasks are completed on time.
4. Invest in automated recruitment software.
Recruiting new hires is one of the most expensive and time-intensive HR tasks. It costs an average of $4,129 for a business to hire a new employee. Once you actually begin the recruitment process, it can take weeks to fill that role.
Hiring the right people is important — especially at a small company. But searching LinkedIn, sifting through job applications, and setting up interviews isn’t efficient. The good news is that there are now plenty of tools that can automate this process. Tools like Entelo and SeekOut use AI and machine learning to help you find qualified individuals. Vervoe will grade and rank potential candidates for you so you don’t have to spend hours combing through profiles.
5. Create an employee referral program.
If you need to lighten your load but don’t want to automate recruitment, there’s another effective low-tech option. Hopefully, you like your current team members. Why not create a system to bring more people like them through the door?
Employee referral programs are a cost-effective way to boost recruitment and connect with candidates who might not otherwise apply. It transforms your entire workforce into a team of headhunters. Twenty-eight to 30 percent of new hires come from employee referrals, but encouraging referrals can increase this to 45 percent. As a bonus, employee referral programs have been shown to improve employee satisfaction and retention.
Your referral program doesn’t have to cost a lot of money — or any at all. Some companies offer trips or cash prizes for bringing in new hires, but you don’t have to. An extra vacation day (or three) can be equally motivating.
6. Find an online platform to manage employee benefits.
If you’re still managing employee benefits with spreadsheets and paper, you’re costing yourself time and increasing the likelihood of errors. Health insurance, life insurance, 401(k)s, worker’s comp, disability coverage, and health savings accounts are a lot to handle. This is why it’s important to find an online platform to manage those benefits.
When choosing a benefits management platform, look for one that syncs with payroll to keep your provider abreast of changes. It’s also beneficial if employees can log in to update their information themselves. This can save you a lot of legwork.
As a small business owner, you’re used to wearing multiple hats, but wearing too many is bad for your business. Non-revenue-generating activities like HR probably take up a huge portion of your workweek. That’s time that could otherwise be spent reaching new customers and growing your business. You don’t necessarily have to hire or outsource to lighten your load. Just finding ways to streamline HR tasks can free up time and simplify your life.
Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash